Each May, the Arthritis Foundation sponsors a nationwide team event called the Arthritis Walk that raises funds to fight arthritis. The event typically takes place during the month of May in conjunction with National Arthritis Month and helps raise awareness for the approximately 50 million Americans who suffer from the pain, cost, and disability of arthritis. During May, the Arthritis Foundation calls on the nation to take action against arthritis, America’s leading cause of disability.
The word “arthritis” means “joint inflammation.” With arthritis, an area in or around a joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness and, sometimes, difficultly moving. Inflammation that lasts a long time or recurs, as in arthritis, can lead to tissue damage. Some types of arthritis also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Some of the more common types include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Different types of arthritis have different symptoms and can vary in severity from person to person. Osteoarthritis does not generally cause any symptoms outside the joint. Symptoms of other types of arthritis may include fatigue, fever, rash, and the signs of joint inflammation, including:
The exact cause of most types of arthritis is not known, but there is likely a multitude of causes. Researchers are currently examining the role of genetics and lifestyle behaviors in the development of arthritis. Risk factors for arthritis include age, gender, obesity, and work factors.
Once arthritis has been diagnosed, the goal of treatment is to provide pain relief and increase joint mobility and strength. Treatment options include medication, exercise, heat/cold compresses, use of joint protection, and surgery. With early diagnosis, most types of arthritis can be managed and the pain and disability minimized. Additionally, early diagnosis and treatment may be able to prevent tissue damage caused by arthritis.
To learn more about National Arthritis Month, please visit www.arthritis.org .